Archive | November 2011

Attorney General Holder Convenes First Hearing on Children’s Exposure to Violence

On November 29, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder convened the first of four public hearings of the National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, a part of the Defending Childhood initiative, which is gathering expert and community testimony on children’s exposure to violence. Recent research shows that more than sixty (60) percent of American children have been exposed to violence, crime, or abuse—many within their own homes.

The task force will hold additional hearings this year in Albuquerque, NM; Miami, FL; and Detroit, MI. These hearings will help the task force to identify promising practices, programs, and community strategies to prevent and respond to children’s exposure to violence. The task force will also issue a final report to the attorney general presenting its findings and comprehensive policy recommendations.

Resources:

To learn more about the afore-referenced task force, visit: www.justice.gov/defendingchildhood/task-force.html. Also visit the U.S. Department of Justice’s Defending Childhood initiative at www.justice.gov/defendingchildhood. Additionally, you can read a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice on the first hearing on children’s exposure to violence at: www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/November/11-ag-1541.html.

Sources: Prevent-Connect, Ohio Department of Health’s Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Prevention Program, US Dept. of Justice Action Center.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization

Not all homes provide a safe haven. For the victims of domestic violence, home is a place where hearts and lives are broken. Family violence spares no one. The partner who is battered and the children who watch, or who themselves may be abused, all suffer. Their physical and emotional pain is long-lasting.

Domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of women. For far too many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Yet, domestic violence is a subject that we, as a society, are reluctant to talk about. As a result, victims often suffer and die in silence. And despite the intense media attention recently focused on a few high profile courtroom cases, the public remains largely uninformed about the nature and warning signs of domestic violence.

Until recently, domestic violence was viewed as a “private family matter” as opposed to a crime against society with potentially lethal consequences.  Increasingly our public institutions—law enforcement, the courts, policy makers, health care providers, and social service providers—are recognizing incidents of domestic violence as violent criminal acts with devastating consequences for individual victims, their children, and the community, and are seeking effective methods for dealing with this pressing public health issue.  Community support and involvement are integral parts of domestic violence prevention and intervention. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has provided funding for much needed supportive programs for victims of domestic violence.

The National Task to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women in its recent action alert reminds us that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is due for reauthorization. It has been reported that Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), will introduce a bipartisan bill on Wednesday, November 30, 2011, to reauthorize and improve VAWA.  In its action alert, the National Task Force indicates that it has worked closely with them on “…the bill to ensure that it will not only continue proven effective programs, but that it will make key changes to streamline VAWA and make sure that even more people have access to safety, stability and justice.”

The National Task to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women reminds us that it is important to get the Senators on the list below excited about VAWA and to get their support for the bill.  With that said, if you live in any of the states listed below, please call your Senator(s) TODAY and ask for them to be original co-sponsors of VAWA.  It is critical to VAWA’s reauthorization to get and keep our elected officials telephones ringing.

To assist you in placing your call, the National Task to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women’s action alert provides the following talking points and contact information for your elected officials in Washington, DC.

“Talking points:

We know that Senator _________ cares about ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The Violence Against Women Act is critical to our ability to address these crimes in our state.

There is evidence showing that VAWA has saved millions of dollars and countless lives.

We are asking for you to be an original co-sponsor of the Leahy/Crapo bill that will be introduced on Wednesday.

Please contact Anya McMurray or Noah Bookbinder at (202)224-7703 to sign on to the bill.”

Alabama

Sessions, Jeff – (202) 224-4124

Shelby, Richard – (202) 224-5744

Arkansas

Boozman, John – (202) 224-4843

Alaska

Murkowski, Lisa – (202) 224-6665

Arizona

McCain, John – (202) 224-2235

Kyl, Jon – (202) 224-4521

Florida

Rubio, Marco – (202) 224-3041

 

Georgia

Chambliss, Saxby – (202) 224-3521

Isakson, Johnny – (202) 224-3643

Idaho

Crapo, Mike – (202) 224-6142 – (thank him!)

Risch, James – (202) 224-2752

Illinois

Kirk, Mark – (202) 224-2854

Indiana

Lugar, Richard – (202) 224-4814

Coats, Daniel – (202) 224-5623

Iowa

Grassley, Chuck – (202) 224-3744

Louisiana

Vitter, David – (202) 224-4623

Kansas

Moran, Jerry – (202) 224-6521

Roberts, Pat – (202) 224-4774

Kentucky

McConnell, Mitch – (202) 224-2541

Paul, Rand – (202) 224-4343

Maine

Collins, Susan – (202) 224-2523

Snowe, Olympia – (202) 224-5344

Massachusetts

Brown, Scott – (202) 224-4543

Mississippi

Cochran, Thad – (202) 224-5054

Wicker, Roger – (202) 224-6253

Missouri

Blunt, Roy – (202) 224-5721

Nebraska

Johanns, Mike – (202) 224-4224

Nevada

Heller, Dean – (202) 224-6244

New Hampshire

Ayotte, Kelly – (202) 224-3324

North Carolina

Burr, Richard – (202) 224-3154

North Dakota

Hoeven, John – (202) 224-2551

Ohio

Portman, Rob – (202) 224-3353

Oklahoma

Coburn, Tom – (202) 224-5754

Inhofe, James – (202) 224-4721

Pennsylvania

Toomey, Patrick – (202) 224-4254

South Carolina

DeMint, Jim – (202) 224-6121

Graham, Lindsey – (202) 224-5972

South Dakota

Thune, John – (202) 224-2321

Tennessee

Alexander, Lamar – (202) 224-4944

Corker, Bob – (202) 224-3344

Texas

Cornyn, John – (202) 224-2934

Hutchison, Kay Bailey – (202) 224-5922

Utah

Hatch, Orrin – (202) 224-5251

Lee, Mike – (202) 224-5444

Wisconsin

Johnson, Ron – (202) 224-5323

Wyoming

Enzi, Michael – (202) 224-3424

Barrasso, John – (202) 224-6441

Please join me in contacting our elected officials to remind them of the importance of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). With an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action, we can eradicate domestic violence.

Source(s): National Task to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Help Protect Programs Children Depend On

This week, the congressional Super Committee could decide on huge federal budget cuts. Programs that our nation’s poorest children and youth depend on are on the line. It has been reported that more than forty-nine (49) million Americans lack reliable access to the food. Childhood hunger is a growing reality in America. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the prevalence of childhood hunger is a national travesty and for many a well-kept secret.

According to the USDA, over seventeen (17) million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2009. ii Twenty (20) percent or more of the child population in sixteen (16) states and D.C. are living in food insecure households.  The states of Arkansas twenty-four point four (24.4) percent and Texas twenty-three point three (24.3) percent have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food. (Cook, John, Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008. iii

In 2009, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children twenty-one point three (21.3) percent, especially households with children headed by single women thirty-six point six (36.6) percent or single men twenty-seven point eight (27.8) percent, Black non-Hispanic households twenty-four point nine (24.9) percent and Hispanic households twenty-six point nine (26.9) percent. v

These heartbreaking facts about the prevalence and the face of hunger in America and the proposed cuts to very necessary social service programs has drawn the attention of thousands of Christians, people of other faiths, heads of denominations, corporations, and nonprofit organizations and compelled them to take action. Will you join them and urge the Super Committee to protect the programs poor children need[i] to succeed?

Everything from Pell Grants to food stamps could be cut by the Super Committee. At the same time, the very wealthiest citizens in our nation continue to enjoy tax breaks while working families continue to struggle with high unemployment. More than one (1) in five (5) children lives in poverty and nearly one (1) in four (4) is at risk of hunger. Now is the time to speak up for children, youth, and families in crisis. Please join me in telling the members of the Super Committee to safeguard programs that the most vulnerable members of our society depend on particularly, in this very challenging economic period.

When you contact members of the Super Committee, your voice will be added to thousands calling on Congress to protect programs and services that benefit children, youth, and families in crisis. Please remind the Super Committee members that everyone deserves a chance.

Thank for you for lending your voice to support necessary programs and services for children.

Source(s): Voices for Americas Children. USDA. Bread for the World Action Alert. Rhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010. Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008. Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States:2006-2008. Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art


[i] Very necessary programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, Head Start, child care, and more need your help.

iiBread for the World Action Alert.

iiRhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America.
February 2010.

iiiNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of

Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008.

iv Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States:2006-2008.

vNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.

Tell Congress To Vote NO on the Balanced Budget Amendment

This week, probably today, the United States House of Representatives will vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority in both chambers for passage, which equates to two hundred ninety (290) votes in the House of Representatives and sixty-seven (67) votes in the US Senate.  The amendment would also need to be ratified by the states.  Call your elected officials in Washington and urge them to vote “NO” on the proposed balanced budget and here is why:

“The US House of Representatives will be voting on H.J. Res. 2, a proposal that does not include a global spending cap or a requirement for a super majority for raising taxes, like the prior proposal H.J. Res. 1. However, the proposal up for consideration does require a super majority vote in Congress to waive or raise the debt ceiling. Many economists warn that adding a balanced budget amendment to the constitution would “adversely affect” our national economy. Additionally, the balanced budget amendment could cause significant budget cuts across many federal programs that serve vulnerable children, youth, and families as well as create significant job losses.”[i]

In sum and substance, a balanced amendment removes the ability of the federal government to respond quickly to economic crises. Analysis from leading economists finds, “if a constitutional balanced budget requirement had been ratified in 2008 and took effect in fiscal year 2012, ‘ The effect on the economy would be catastrophic.’[ii]  If the 2012 budget were balanced through spending cuts, those cuts would have to total about $1.5 trillion in 2012 alone, which the report estimates would throw about 15 million more people out of work, double the unemployment rate from 9 percent to approximately 18 percent, and cause the economy to shrink by about 17 percent instead of growing by an expected 2 percent.”[iii]  The nation’s long-term fiscal challenges with the budget and taxes are such that our elected leaders need every tool available to generate balanced, equitable solutions.

Short Summary of the Balanced Budget Amendment (H.J. Res 2)[iv]

“H. J. Res. 2 would generally require that the U.S. government operate under a balanced budget each year and not run any deficits, unless each chamber of Congress agrees to a deficit by a three-fifths vote.

Increases in the statutory debt limit also would require a three-fifths vote of each chamber. Unlike some other constitutional amendment proposals, it does not cap total federal spending or require supermajority votes to raise taxes.

Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority vote of each chamber in order to be submitted to the states for ratification. It is expected the measure will be considered under suspension of the rules, which bars amendments and requires a two-thirds majority vote for passage.

Even if you have done so before, please call your representative NOW at 1-866-277-7617. Ask for your representative’s specific office.

Here is what your representative needs to hear from you:

Vote “NO” on the balanced budget amendment, H.J. Res. 2.

This proposal will hurt America’s children and families   by making massive budget cuts when the economy is at its weakest and unemployment is at its highest.

Making deep, shortsighted cuts now will short-circuit our children’s potential success in the future.  The cuts to programs and services for children, youth, and families, like education, health, college assistance, and income supports, would be both immediate and devastating and would fall hardest on low-income families and children.”

For more information on the devastating impact of adopting a balanced budget amendment, visit the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website.

Sources: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website. Voices For Americas Children Action Alert.


[i]   Voices For Americas Children

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Thanksgiving ??

It will soon be Thanksgiving and in the American tradition, many will prepare a celebration to express their gratitude to God for all the blessings in their lives. Most celebrate with a turkey dinner.  It is a longstanding tradition.

This year’s Thanksgiving holiday, for many families, is filled with worry about how they will pay their bills in December. The National Association of Working Women remind us that, “…Nearly 8 million workers and their families have been kept afloat by the extension of the federal unemployment insurance program while they search for work in this tough economy. Unemployment is at a historic high of 9.6%, and jobless workers across the country are doing all they can to meet their families’ basic needs. Long-term unemployment is at a level not seen since the Great Depression– over 42% of all unemployed (6.1 million workers) have been without a job for over 6 months, and 30% (4.4 million workers) have been out of work for over a year.” How would you celebrate if you couldn’t afford to buy the traditional Thanksgiving food? There would be no turkey, no mashed potatoes, no gravy, no dressing, and even no pumpkin pie.

Many throughout our nation are facing another Thanksgiving holiday that will not include the traditional meal with all the trimmings.  Economic times are very difficult for countless families and food budgets, for many, are stretched to the limit. You can make it a better holiday for a family in your community.  Donate to your local community food bank and you will help make Thanksgiving a joyous day for many of your neighbors in need. After all, it’s an American tradition.  Make a difference; change a life.

Additionally, tell your members of Congress to protect programs that give hope and opportunity to people experiencing hunger and poverty. Reducing our nation’s long-term debt is critical, but hungry and poor people didn’t cause the problem, and cutting programs that help them won’t significantly reduce our debt. But cutting these programs will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable members of our society. As the Super Committee considers budget cuts, please join me in urging Congress to keep our nation’s commitment to those Jesus called “the least of these.” Please join me in sending an email to our members of Congress today and remind them that they are in office to care for all their constituents not simply the 1%.

Source(s): The National Association of Working Women. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

The Exploitation of Poverty Stricken Immigrant Women Results in “Injustice on Our Plates”

As the Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s founder Morris Dees reminds us that as we sit down to give thanks for the bounty of our nation and for all the blessings we enjoy, we should remember those who do the backbreaking labor that puts food on our tables.

In response to the plight of migrant farm workers, in 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center released an investigative report entitled “Injustice on Our Plates” which exposes the exploitation of poverty-stricken immigrant women working in our nation’s food industry.

The report not only tells the story of individuals it includes federal recommendations related to comprehensive immigration reforms that will ensure fairness for farm workers and others who are feeding our nation with their labor.

Dees states that, in addition to wage cheating, sexual harassment in the workplace is a fact of life for the women he interviewed for the report. The report indicates that fear keeps these women silent, so their suffering is invisible to all of us who benefit from their labor every time we sit down at the dinner table.

Dees reminds us in his eye-opening investigative report that, “We, as a nation, have allowed this shameful exploitation to continue for far too long. We have a moral obligation to recognize the problem and to take a stand.”

To learn more, please get the report and urge your lawmakers to take up comprehensive immigration reform and strengthen laws that will ensure fairness for farm workers and others who are feeding us with their labor. With an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action we can change the world.

Source(s): Southern Poverty Law Center. “Injustice On Our Plates”. Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Seize the Day: Call Congress

Send a message to Congress that Americans need jobs, not budget cuts to very necessary programs and services. Throughout our nation our infrastructure is crumbling as demonstrated by: the roads, schools, libraries, and parks that should be built or repaired. We have countless communities in our nation that have bridges in need of desperate repair, pothole covered streets, and missing street lights. Funding must be made available for maintaining our nation’s infrastructure. This necessary funding will serve multiply purposes including but not limited to: rebuild our nation’s infrastructure; as well as improve our economy because it would put unemployed people back to work across our nation.

Let your elected officials know that you are an everyday person, part of the 99%, and an informed voter. Further that you and other 99% members are calling on our government officials to make prudent decisions that would help our economy and our families. Call on legislators in the Super Committee to make decisions that will bring jobs and improvements to our communities, ultimately economic growth. It’s time for our elected officials in Washington to make decisions which improve the health and welfare of the 99%.  Toward that goal, get involved. Take action that can and will change the future. Call or email your elected officials in Washington and let them know your thoughts about our nation’s economy. Additionally, if you are not already registered, get registered to vote.  During elections,  seize the opportunity to cast your vote. As was aptly stated by President Johnson when discussing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, “The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.”[i]

Your vote can be decisive, stand up, speak out, be heard— participate in the “Rebuild the American Dream” movement and make your voice be heard.  For further information on the “Rebuild the
American Dream Movement”, visit http://www.moveon.org. Sources: Moveon.org. Wikipedia.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art


[i]
Wikipedia